National bakery chain Greggs is the latest retailer to confirm one of its branches will be opening on the 130 home development which Hightown Housing Association is building in the Maylands area of Hemel Hempstead.

The new “Maylands Plaza” scheme is rapidly taking shape on the site of a redundant call centre on Maylands Avenue, with negotiations also taking place with a national coffee chain about one of the other commercial units included in the parade of shops on the development.

Adeyfield Free Church is moving to the new development from its current home in nearby Leverstock Green Road this summer. Its new home will include a crèche, café and meeting rooms.

Hightown Development Director George Edkins said: “It’s exciting that Greggs has recently signed up to move into Maylands, and some of the other large commercial units are likely to be occupied by big name retailers too. We are also looking to provide options to make it easier for smaller local independent companies to come on board.

“These shops will be a great amenity for the new Maylands residents and people working for nearby businesses. It will help rejuvenate this area of Hemel Hempstead as well as providing much-needed homes for local people.”

Hightown is building two modern blocks of one and two-bedroom apartments on the site, with 77 for affordable rent and 53 for intermediate rent, which offer assured shorthold tenancies that are around 20% cheaper than similar properties to help people save for a deposit to get onto the property ladder within five years.

Building work on the scheme, which also includes an attractive public square, has been progressing well. The charitable housing association, based across the road from the site, hopes the first residents will move into their new homes by the end of 2017.

The apartments are among the 225 properties that Hightown is building in the Dacorum Borough Council area in the next five years, at a cost of £45m. On the nearby Viking House site in Swallowdale Lane it will also be building 87 one-and-two bedroom flats across four blocks.